The starship Voyager, home to a crew of about 150, was orbiting a small M class planet in an area of space known as the Delta Quadrant. Having been kidnapped by an alien being over seven years ago the ship and her crew have been steadily traveling the 70,000 light years back home. Among the crew was Seven of Nine, her numeric name a holdover from time she had spent as a Borg drone. Having been rescued by Voyagerís captain several years ago, Seven became an important member of the crew. The startlingly beautiful blonde had a wealth of knowledge assimilated from her time in the Collective. Janeway knew when she did finally get home, her Astrometrics lab, designed by Seven, would be the envy of Starfleet. But right now, in spite of her brilliance both natural and assimilated, the former drone was confused.
Seven studied the message coming over her console.
Would you have dinner with me this evening at 1900 hours? I have several sessions of holodeck time reserved and would like your company.
PS. No uniforms
If the message had not been coded with the captainís personal logon, Seven would have wondered which Kathryn had sent it. As every other note Seven had ever received from Janeway was signed Capt. K Janeway, this change in behavior was odd.
Kathryn Janeway woke up early after another less than peaceful night of sleep. She sat quietly looking over her morning logs. As she read, her weary frown slowly turned to a little grin and then a full-fledged smile. She quickly typed out a note for her Astrometrics officer and headed towards the bridge. If anyone noticed there was a little spring in her step, they didnít mention it.
After ten minutes on the bridge Kathryn received a hail. Forgetting the cardinal rule of Seven, You never know what she is going to say, the captain stayed in her command chair as she answered.
"Seven of Nine to the Captain."
"Janeway here Seven, go ahead."
"I would like to speak to you about your request. Is now a good time?"
"Certainly Seven, whatís up?"
"I am pleased to accept your invitation for dinner. I am curious if I should use a site to site transport to get to the holodeck."
"Seven, are you ill? Why would you need to use the transporter?"
"I am afraid that walking through the ship undressed would cause discomfort among the crew. Were you planning to disrobe once you got there?"
At this point Kathryn was doing a good imitation of Phoebeís pet goldfish. Her mouth was open and moving but no sound was coming out.
"I am interested to know what program you plan on running."
Kathryn felt the eyes of the entire bridge staff burning into her. She slowly looked up at her first officer who was blue from trying to breath without laughing. The rest of the crew had glazed looks that came from visioning Seven and the Captain strolling through the corridors naked.
"Yes Captain, we are all curious to know what program you will be running." Tom Paris quipped with a smirk.
Giving Tom the patented Janeway force ten glare, Kathryn pulled herself together. Thinking about her communication she realized her no uniform message was misunderstood.
"Seven when I wrote no uniforms I meant that we will be dressed (she gave a hard look around the room) in civilian attire."
"Thank you for clarifying, I will see you at 1900 hours."
"Janeway out." The captain held one finger in the air as she slowly made a full 360-degree turn around the room making eye contact with each crewmember. Then with all the dignity she could muster she walked to her ready room door.
1900 hours found Janeway pacing the holodeck. Dressed in a royal blue, silk pantsuit Kathryn was beautiful. Relax you have faced the Kazon, a Cardassian prison camp and even the Vidiian; you can certainly survive a date with you Astrometrics officer. Of course you would be less averse to sharing a few body parts with her. Donít go there Kathryn, this is you first date.
The door to the holodeck opened and Kathrynís blush turned to breathlessness as she studied the loveliness before her. Sevenís dress was all black and her blonde hair and blue eyes jumped out at Kathryn. "Hello Seven, you look stunning. Thank you for joining me."
"I am pleased to be here Captain, but I am unfamiliar with the protocols for this type of engagement."
"Well letís start by loosing the Captain. This evening I need to be Kathryn, a woman."
"Let usÖlose the Borg as well. Will you address me by my human designation this evening?"
Kathryn smiled as she led Seven to the table. "That would please me very much, Annika."
As they sat across from each other Kathryn maintained her hold on Sevenís hand.
"Annika, I would like to spend more time with you. I would like to explore a relationship outside of captain to crew, more than friends. I hope you feel the same. If this makes you uncomfortable, I will never mention it again."
Kathryn held her breath as their conversation was halted by the arrival of their meal.
"Kathryn, I would be glad to explore a new relationship with you."
Kathryn looked at Seven with some relief but also amazement. And even though the captain in her cringed at the insecurity that she was showing she asked, "Why?"
Seven smiled. "For many reasons, Kathryn, not the least of which is your aesthetic appeal. As I have learned to deal with both my humanity and my emotions I have found you to be both catalyst and example, torturer and mentor. The first time I felt anger it was at you for separating me from the collective. The first time I felt sadness was when I realized the burden you carry every day. Your velocity game taught me about frustration and my first meeting with hate was for Arturis because he tried to hurt you. When you came and got me back from the Borg I felt loved, and when you knelt in front of me on the Delta flyer I knew I was in love."
"You love me, Annika? How can you be sure?"
"The same way I am sure I live. It is affirmed in every breath I take."
Kathryn took Sevenís hand again. Needing to connect physically after such a declaration.
"Your turn Kathryn. Tell me why now. What broke through that Starfleet reserve and brought you to me."
Janeway looked down at their entwined hands as she quietly spoke. "I have been thinking a lot lately about what this ship represented to me when she was first commissioned. Command, exploration, excitement and opportunity were my expectations. But as our time in the Delta Quadrant has lengthened I had begun to think of her as my prison, my own personal hell. Others of the crew have settled in and think of Voyager as home, my isolation as captain has forbidden me. How can you have a home filled with nothing but duty? This morning as I sat at my computer I hated this ship. I thought about all that I was missing, all my unmet needs and wanted to kick the bulkheads. But soon I realized I was on a unique mission in a situation that was mine alone. There are so many dubious decisions I will have to answer for when we get back, what is one more if it keeps me sane and makes me happy? I have known, since the first time I held you in the Brig, that I loved you. I just needed permission from my self to act on that feeling."
"And why tonight Kathryn?"
"Because as I made this decision I found a reason to celebrate, and without that reason there would be no us. So Annika, my friend and my love, lift your glass in toast with me and we will honor Voyager, commissioned eight years ago today."
In the mess hall Neelix was serving up a cake with eight candles to the crew. It is so nice to have a reason to celebrate. I am glad I sent that memo to the captain this morning.